Scientists fear that “zombie deer” disease will spread to humans – El Sol de México

Scientists warned of the possible spread of disease known as “zombie deer”one for which There are no known treatments or vaccines.which at the moment It only affects the deer familybut could give way to humans.

The name of the disease is chronic wasting disease and is caused by prionsWhat are they abnormal and transmissible pathogenscausing changes in the brain and nervous system of the host.

In animals it manifests itself with symptoms such as leaving them with a “blank stare,” emaciated, lethargic, clumsy, and droolingso it seems that they become zombies due to their erratic behavior.

Until now spreads in the cervid familywhich includes the deer, elk, caribou and reindeerbut the concern of scientists is that, at the time, an outbreak occurs in humans as occurred with bovine spongiform encephalopathybetter known as the mad cow disease.

“We are facing a disease that is invariably fatal, incurable and highly contagious. Adding to the concern is the fact that we do not have an easy and effective way to eradicate it, neither from the animals it infects nor from the environment it contaminates,” said Dr. Cory Anderson, a doctor at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, United States.

When did concern about zombie deer disease start?

It was in 1967 the first time the disease was discovered and since then it began its expansion to different states and countries around the world, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Currently, cases have been found in reindeer and moose from countries such as Canada, South Korea, Finland, Norway and Swedenwhile, in the In the United States, at least one case has been detected in 31 states.

One of them was the one who raised the alert when the death of a deer last October in Yellowstone National Park, located in WyomingUnited States, and which is one of the larger national parks and with an ecosystem that is home to a large number of mammalsin addition to being traveled by humans.

The scientists added that Yellowstone Park could now serve as an experimental site to see how the disease interacts with other animalsif a greater number of deer or deer are infected.

Species of the cervid family are part of the food chain of populations such as coyotes, wolves, brown bears, pumas, among other animals that reside there. Thus, It is not known if CWD can infect other mammals, birds, livestock with which they come to interact and same humans.

Although, until now, there has not been massive contagion even among the animals themselves, scientists affirm that This doesn’t mean it can’t happen. This is mainly due to the way in which human settlements and agricultural operations movewhich lead to human contact with animal species with which this approach was not previously had.

Different ecologists and experts have already requested that the disease be placed emerging endangered zoonotic pathogens that move between livestock, human and wildlife species.

“The outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom provided an example of how, overnight, things can go crazy when contagion occurs. The event moves, let’s say, from livestock to people,” said Cory Anderson. “We are talking about the possibility of something similar happening. “No one is saying it will definitely happen, but it is important that people are prepared.”

How does spreads the disease?

About the way in which the disease of “zombie deer“i” is contagious, it is through contact with contaminated body fluids and tissues, also through the environment or through contaminated drinking water and food.

This disease has a incubation period that can exceed one yearso the Symptoms may take a long time to develop or appear slowly.

Another worrying point is that, once an ecosystem or environment is contaminatedthe pathogen of the diseasezombie deer” is very complicated to eradicateso you can remain on surfaces for several years and would be resistant to disinfectants, radiation, incineration and formaldehyde.

Originally published in The Sun of Puebla

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